Great story here:
Could Osama bin Laden have been found faster if the CIA had followed the advice of ecosystem geographers from the University of California, Los Angeles? Probably not, but the predictions of UCLA geographer Thomas Gillespie, who, along with colleague John Agnew and a class of undergraduates, authored a 2009 paper predicting the terrorist’s whereabouts, were none too shabby. According to a probabilistic model they created, there was an 88.9% chance that bin Laden was hiding out in a city less than 300 km from his last known location in Tora Bora: a region that included Abbottabad, Pakistan, where he was killed last night.
That's via Matthew Yglesias who believes the fact that bin Laden was holed up in a swanky compound in a city dispells the myth that terrorists need safe havens:
For one thing, a terrorist in rural Afghanistan is, by definition, not in the United States. It’s also hard to get from rural Afghanistan to the United States. And it’s difficult to communicate with people who aren’t in rural Afghanistan. It’s also, as Gillespie says, relatively likely that people will know what you’re up to. And in the scheme of things, it’s easier to be spotted by spy satellites and the like.
I'd also add that terrorists holed up in remote regions of lawless or poorly governed states are vulnerable to attack - by drones or from the air. We can also collect intelligence on terrorist networks without nation building in Afghanistan.